Orangemen and Sinn Fein

Dear Sir,

I found the interview with the Deputy First Minister (19th August) most intriguing, particularly his statement that he could not fathom “why the ‘leaders’ of the Orange Order are not willing to meet with the Sinn Fein ‘leadership’.”

In June 2005 the ‘leaders’ of the Order in Belfast met with the ‘leadership’ of Sinn Fein in West Belfast in a well publicised endeavour to resolve the Whiterock parade.

But there is earlier evidence of meetings. Eric Kaufmann in his book The Orange order: A Contemporary Northern Irish History states, “Robert Saulters said that the Belfast County Treasurer (Mervyn Bishop) had directly met Sinn Fein in 1995. . .” (Page 260). Mervyn Bishop is now the Grand Treasurer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the Imperial Grand Secretary.

There is clear evidence that there have been meetings between the ‘leaders’ and the ‘leadership’. What therefore does the Deputy First Minister mean by ‘leaders’ and ‘leadership’? Perhaps he will clarify?

Yours etc.

Brian Kennaway (Rev)

Author: The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed.

This letter appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on 21st August 2009